The Lynx and Los Angeles did their part, giving the WNBA the matchup it wanted for the league finals that start Sunday at Target Center. But on a day with an overpacked schedule of TV sports, they will find themselves fighting for a slice of the audience.
The WNBA's two best teams will tip off Game 1 of the best-of-five finals at 2 p.m., right in the middle of an NFL Sunday. The game will get the major broadcast network treatment, airing on ABC (Ch. 5). It's the kind of scenario women's sports advocates dream of — two star-laden teams, playing on national TV — but it's part of a huge sports menu that day, including a full slate of NFL games and the baseball playoffs.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve talked about the bad timing Thursday, as her team resumed practice at the Courts at Mayo Clinic Square. Thousands of eyeballs in the Twin Cities, she knows, will be glued to the Vikings-Houston game at U.S. Bank Stadium. That's one of seven NFL games airing at noon, with another four kicking off between 3 and 3:25 p.m.
There's also a pair of American League Division Series games on Sunday, with TBS showing Game 3 between Cleveland and Boston at 3 p.m. and Game 3 of the Texas-Toronto series at 6:30 p.m.
With the Vikings 4-0, the subset of Twin Cities viewers interested in both the Vikings and the Lynx will be wearing out their remotes switching back and forth. While Reeve said the schedule is "certainly not ideal,'' she's not crying about it.
"I know there are many, many challenges to women in sport, as far as getting us into the coverage that we'd like to be in,'' said Reeve, an outspoken champion of better media coverage of women's sports. "Some of it is just that decisionmakers don't want to do it and don't care about it and don't think about it and don't plan. Some of it is obvious challenges in programming around the NFL, because it's pretty much all day. And so, where is there a good spot?
"Is it a combination of both in this case? I have no idea. But we'll do like we always do, as far as women. We'll just keep our nose to the grind, be resilient, plow through it and continue to try to advocate for change where it's needed. But right now, we're going to try to make lemonade.''
Game 1 is the only matinee of the Finals and the only game scheduled to air on national broadcast television. The other games all will be played at night and will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.